Alan Pence

Alan Pence
School of Child and Youth Care

BA, MS (Portland St), PhD (Ore)

Area of expertise

Early childhood education, care and development (ECD); International development and ECD; Graduate level ECD leadership development; ECD in sub-Saharan Africa; ECD and Indigenous communities

Brief biography

Alan Pence is the UNESCO Chair for Early Childhood Education, Care and Development (ECD)at the University of Victoria and a Full Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He is the former Director of the School and has established three specialized units:

  • the Unit for Early Years Research and Development (EYRD:
  • the First Nations Partnership Programs (FNPP: for Community-Based Indigenous Child and Youth Care Education; and
  • the Early Childhood Development Virtual University (ECDVU:, focusing on ECD capacity promotion and leadership development.

printable bio

Dr. Pence is the recipient of the Canadian Bureau for International Education’s Award for Educational Leadership, the University of Victoria’s inaugural Craigdarroch Research Award for Societal Contributions, and the ECDVU program was a finalist for the internationally prestigious WISE Awards for innovation in education.


Before coming to the University of Victoria in 1980/81, Dr. Pence had been employed professionally in the field of child and youth care for a period of ten years. During that time he served as an early childhood educator, rural programs coordinator, head start CDA trainer, college instructor, and director of early childhood, school-age after-school care, and residential special needs programs.


Prior to the early 1990s Dr. Pence was primarily involved in Canadian based research addressing the interaction of family, labour force participation, child care, and child development. This work was initiated in 1982 with the Victoria and Vancouver Day Care Research Projects. Commencing in 1988 he was a Co-Principal Investigator with the Canadian National Child Care Study (CNCCS), a large-scale survey of over 24,000 families focusing on their labour force participation and child care arrangement characteristics. Since 1981 Dr. Pence has served as Principal or Co-Principal for over 70 research and development projects from 25-plus funders worth over 14 million dollars.

Current work

In the late 1980s Dr. Pence's research interests shifted towards cross-cultural and sociological perspectives on children and their care. He was the Canadian representative to the European-based sociological study of Children in Contemporary Society (1987-90).

In 1989 he was invited by a large Aboriginal tribal council in northern Canada to work with them on developing a culturally and community sensitive approach to post-secondary training in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD). He was subsequently invited to work with eight other Canadian tribal organizations (see This cross-cultural, partnership work stimulated a broader interest in ECD as part of community development in the Majority (Developing) World.

In 1994 Dr. Pence was invited by UNICEF headquarters to develop a series of international training Institutes focused on promoting regional capacity for culturally and community appropriate early childhood care and development programs. In January of 2000 he received development funding from the World Bank and the Norwegian Government to "link" the ECD Training Institutes structure via a web-based learning platform to create the Early Childhood Development Virtual University graduate program (see

The ECDVU has had successful capacity building deliveries in Africa (2001-2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015) and in the Middle East (2002 & 2005). Dr. Pence is frequently invited to speak internationally regarding ECD capacity building.

Research interests

Early childhood education, care and development (ECD); International development and ECD; Graduate level ECD leadership development; ECD in sub-Saharan Africa; ECD and Indigenous communities.


Dr. Pence is the author of over 140 refereed journal articles, book chapters and monographs on a range of education, child development, and child and youth care topics. He has edited four special issue journals and edited or authored twelve books, including: 

Ecological Research With Children and Families: From Concepts to Methodology (1988); 

Professional Child and Youth Care: The Canadian Perspective (1987; 2nd Edition 1993); 

Perspectives in Professional Child and Youth Care (1990); 

Family Day Care: Current Research for Informed Public Policy (1992); 

Valuing Quality in Early Childhood Services: New Approaches to Defining Quality (1994); 

Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Postmodern Perspectives (1999; 2nd edition 2007; 3rd  ‘classics’ edition 2013, translated into 12 languages); 

Supporting Indigenous Children’s Development: Community-University Partnerships (2006); 

Africa’s Future – Africa’s Challenge: Early Childhood Care and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (2008);

Child and Youth Care: Critical Perspectives on Pedagogy, Practice, and Policy (2011);

Complexities, Capacities, Communities: Changing Development Narratives in Early Childhood Education, Care and Development {2016).